By Stephanye R. Clarke
On Friday, October 24th, I represented Universal Health Care Foundation at Connecticut’s Multicultural Health Partnership’s Annual Meeting. Dr. Adewale Troutman, keynote speaker, laid the foundation for the remainder of the day, challenging attendees to be outraged about inequities; be mindful of our approach and methods as we “help” communities on their journey to becoming healthier; and work together (across all sectors) in our efforts to promote healthier communities.
Dr. Troutman reminded everyone in the room that health inequity is a social justice issue for millions of people and that it’s up to us to work together to find a solution. “If you’re working in silos, please break those walls down—they’re equivalent to death; we can’t succeed that way.”
Dr. Troutman is widely recognized for his commitment to the elimination of racism, to social justice and health equity; and the role social determinants of health play in all these issues. According to the World Health Organization, the social determinants of health are “the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age. These circumstances are shaped by the distribution of money, power and resources at global, national and local levels.” Examples include (but are not limited to) social capital, education, transportation, access to health services, access to food, public safety, housing and environmental exposure.
Dr. Troutman offered that addressing these and other conditions, will yield long-term, sustainable results. I agree, of course—and not only because I’m a great fan of Dr. Troutman and the work of the Troutman Group, but because like many, I believe that providers should factor in the total lived experience of their patients as they diagnose and treat them. In a blog yesterday, my coworker Rose mentioned similar sentiments being shared at a recent conference she attended.
He spoke frankly about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), citing its accomplishments in getting millions access for health care coverage. He also cautioned that it does not go far enough and that “it increases the number of people entering a system that’s broken.” That made me pause and think—as a former in-person assister, I felt wonderful each time I was able to help someone get enrolled in health care coverage during the first open enrollment—and also wondered if/how things had changed for them since they’d been covered. His comment that we “need to move from a system of sick care to well care” was well-received. There are obviously many steps that need to be taken to achieve this, yet it is a goal that any health care reform should keep at the center.
You can check out tweets from the event by searching for the hashtag #ctmhp14 or clicking here.